The Old Testament Hope

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Psalms 49 & 71, Isaiah 26, Daniel 12
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 4

The Old Testament Hope

(Psalms 49 & 71, Isaiah 26, Daniel 12)

Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: Why do you remain a Christian? When I’ve considered turning away what stopped me was the thought of living life without God. Central to my life is knowing that God is with me in every challenge. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:19 “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” I don’t agree. Even without a hereafter, I have been immeasurably blessed in this life by God’s companionship. Know that I’ve taken Paul’s words out of context. His context is that we have been captured by a lie if heaven is not real. In context, Paul’s statement aligns with my gratitude for God’s presence. Jesus is real. His resurrection is real. His companionship with us is real and will continue forever if we choose. Jesus is at the heart of Paul’s argument about the hereafter. What did God’s people believe before Jesus came? Did they believe in an enduring companionship with God? Let’s turn to that this week in our continuing study of the Bible!

  1. The Job Dispute
    1. You know the story of Job. God brags that Job is an ideal follower, and Satan responds that Job follows God because of what he can get. That precise point is tested by taking virtually everything away from Job except his wife. Read Job 2:9. Assume that Job’s wife loves him and has his best interest in mind. Why would she suggest this course of action? (It ends Job’s suffering. She is not contemplating an afterlife.)
    2. Read Job 2:10. What counter argument does Job make to his wife? Does it involve an afterlife? (It is a statement about justice on earth. Job does not raise the issue of an afterlife.)
    3. Read Job 19:25-27. What does Job mean by the phrase, “after my skin has been destroyed?” (He must be referring to a time after his death.)
      1. How would Job see God after Job died? (Job’s comment shows that he believes in an afterlife. This supplies the logic for him persisting despite terrible losses and personal suffering.)
  2. Foolish Confidence
    1. Read Psalms 49:5-6. The Psalmist writes about fear. Why does he not fear? What is different about his source of confidence? (The inference is that the Psalmist places his confidence in God while others place their confidence in their wealth.)
    2. Read Psalms 49:7-9. What is the problem with relying on wealth to avoid “the pit?” (The pit is death, and the wealthy are not rich enough to “ransom another.”)
    3. Read Psalms 49:10-12. If you put your name on a building will you be remembered forever? (The text says that even then you will be like the animals who die - your “pomp will not remain.” Our local boarding school had a dormitory named after the man who I believe paid to build it. (His widow was a member of my church when I was young.) When I became old, someone paid to renovate the dormitory and the school renamed the building after the renovator!)
    4. Read Psalms 49:14-15. What do you think is this “morning?” (This is a reference to the Second Coming of Jesus. It states that both the righteous and unrighteous will be raised “in the morning,” but then the unrighteous “shall be consumed in Sheol.” Why? Because there is no place for them, but the Psalmist will be received by God based on a ransom!)
    5. Notice that this discussion of the afterlife begins with a discussion of confidence in God’s companionship during life.
  3. The Wise Confidence
    1. Read Psalms 71:1-4. In whom does the Psalmist (King David) trust in times of distress? (God. David says that God is my “rock and my fortress.”)
      1. What do you think David would say about living a life without the support of God?
    2. Read Psalms 71:9-11. When does David say that God’s support is most important to him? (When he is old, when his “strength is spent.”)
    3. Read Psalms 71:20-21. What is the “depths of the earth? (Death. The grave.)
      1. As David goes from being a young man depending on God, to an old man desperately needing God, to one who is buried, what role does God play? (God revives, rescues, and comforts David.)
      2. Did King David believe in heaven? (Yes.)
        1. On what was that belief based? (His continued companionship with God. This relationship survives death.)
  4. Perfect Peace
    1. Read Isaiah 26:1-3. If we trust God during our life here, what is the result? (Perfect peace.)
      1. Does this text suggest that all is peaceful around the person who trusts God? (Just the opposite. Notice the reference to “walls and bulwarks,” “gates,” and a “strong city.” These would not exist were it not for real danger outside.)
    2. Read Isaiah 26:10-11. In what different way do the righteous and unrighteous look at the blessings and favor of God? (The unrighteous learn nothing from it. They do not see God in their blessings, they think it is their cheating that benefits them.)
    3. Read Isaiah 26:18. Will the righteous defeat the unrighteous when we live together on earth? (We cannot ultimately defeat them or cause the evil on earth to fall based on our efforts alone.)
    4. Read Isaiah 26:19 and Isaiah 26:21. What is necessary for evil to be defeated? (God will come and defeat the wicked, but the righteous who “dwell in the dust” will live!)
      1. What does this say about the afterlife?
    5. Read Isaiah 26:20. What should we do in the meantime? (When we face real fury we should hide until the fury passes.)
      1. Really? Should we be hiding? What about Isaiah 26:1-3 which talks about perfect peace for those who trust God’s “walls and bulwarks?” (Perhaps a time comes when we will need to hide “for a little while, but I think the general instruction is to hide in the power of God.)
  5. The Daniel Description
    1. Read Daniel 12:1. Will the righteous face trouble in the end time? (Trouble will exist as never before. But the righteous “shall be delivered.”)
    2. Read Daniel 12:2. What does this say about the afterlife? (It predicts a general resurrection for both the good and bad. The righteous arise to “everlasting life.” We will not get into the details revealed in texts such as 1 Thessalonians 4:16 or Revelation 20:4-15. At the moment we are discussing the Old Testament view of the afterlife.)
    3. Read Daniel 12:3. What kind of future do we find for “those who are wise” and “those who turn many to righteousness? (They shine like stars forever.)
      1. Note the nature of the analogy. Mountains are not the point of comparison, but rather stars. Why? (This adds to the idea that our hereafter is in heaven.)
    4. Read Daniel 12:4. What does this tell Old Testament readers? (That Daniel’s “book” cannot be fully understood until the end of time.)
      1. What was understandable then? (Daniel is very clearly stating that a judgment will be made about people and there is an afterlife. Those who pass are admitted into a “star-like” afterlife.)
  6. Tested Theory
    1. Read John 11:23-26. How did Martha understand the teachings of the Old Testament and her discussions with Jesus? (There was an end time resurrection.)
      1. If this was not true, should Jesus have corrected her? (Rather than correcting Martha, Jesus says that He is “the resurrection and the life.” Jesus had previously told Martha (John 11:23 that her brother would “rise again.”)
      2. Notice that Jesus also says that a believer would “never die.” How should we understand this since Lazarus had died? (Jesus must be promising us that we will never eternally die if we choose Him.)
    2. Friend, in the writings of the Old Testament God has made clear promises to those who choose Him. He will continue His companionship with them into eternal life. Will you choose God now, if you have not already?
  7. Next week: Resurrection Before the Cross.